Team of specialists ensures baby lives normal life after stroke

Landon Johnson, stroke patient, Palm Beach Children's Hospital at St. Mary's

Our-Stories-LandonBeing a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.

When new mother, Amanda Johnson, gave birth to her first child, her main concern was that her baby would be born healthy. At first, her son, Landon, seemed to be a happy, normal infant. That was until the morning before he turned 3 months old when the unthinkable happened and her entire world flipped upside down.

“Typically an easygoing child, Landon’s loud and incessant crying that morning set off an alarm in my head,” explains Amanda. “When my husband, Christopher, and I attempted to get his attention, he was incapable of making eye contact with us and we noticed his eyes were strangely affixed to the left.”

His symptoms persisted throughout the day, and Amanda’s motherly instincts kicked in – she knew something was seriously wrong. She called Dr. Jeanmarie Connor, a pediatrician on the medical staff at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center, who instructed she take him to the hospital immediately.

The nurses at St. Mary’s worked with lightning speed, and within 15 minutes of their arrival, Landon was already triaged. Dr. Jaime Marchand, a pediatric emergency physician, examined and admitted him to the hospital for five days to undergo a series of thorough tests. He was seen by specialists from all different areas of expertise, including a neurologist, a hematologist, a pediatric intensivist and an ophthalmologist. Landon was given a CT scan, and later, an MRI, which showed he had a small blood clot in his brain that had caused a stroke.

“My husband and I didn’t know what to think when we first heard the word, ‘stroke,’” Amanda recalls. “I have never felt as fearful and helpless as I did in that very moment. While other babies Landon’s age were just starting to develop and explore their surroundings, we weren’t even sure if our child would be able to live a normal life.”

The couple questioned what kind of challenges and deficits Landon would face. The stroke had affected the right side of his vision in both sides. Would he be blind? Many thoughts raced through their heads ; thoughts no parents should ever have to brave.

The medical team at St. Mary’s continued to monitor their son closely and took the time to sit down with them to answer any questions they had. Landon underwent a second MRI so doctors could inspect the vessels in his brain and determine if there was any internal bleeding. Thankfully, there was none. The medical staff’s promptness and constant diligence gave Amanda and Christopher comfort and hope that their son would make a complete recovery.

“My husband and I are grateful for the Comprehensive Stroke Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center for helping us get through this challenging time,” says Amanda.  “The pediatric nurses and lab techs treated Landon as if he was their own son and worked around the clock to get his test results back as quickly as possible. The physicians were also remarkable.”

After several outpatient follow-up visits with the neurologist and hematologist, the doctors determined that Landon’s stroke was nothing short of a freak incident. It has been about six months since, and he has improved remarkably fast – his eyesight is correcting itself and brain testing shows that he is meeting every developmental milestone with flying colors.

Every day, Amanda and Christopher are thankful for Landon’s life and the comprehensive care he received at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Based on how he has been doing so far, it seems like he will live a normal life without any long-term effects, which is nothing short of a miracle.

“This entire experience is proof that, as a family, we can overcome anything, including fears we didn’t even know were possible,” says Amanda. “We can choose to go on living in fear or choose to cherish each moment together. We choose the latter.”

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